Beginning with the musical cultures of the American South in the 1920s and 1930s, Bluegrass: A History traces the genre through its pivotal developments during the era of Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys in the 1940s. It describes early bluegrass's role in postwar country music, its trials following the appearance of rock and roll, its embracing by the folk music revival, and the invention of bluegrass festivals in the mid-1960s. Bluegrass also details the transformation of this genre into a self-sustaining musical industry in the 1970s and 1980s.
Rosenberg's book is the publisher's second excellent bluegrass history in two years. Robert Cantwell's Bluegrass Breakdown ( LJ 5/15/84) was a scholarly study of the music and its cultural roots, while this one expands the reader's appreciation by focusing on the performers. There is considerable overlap, of course, as both authors describe Bill Monroe's founding influence and the contributions of pioneers such as the Stanley Brothers and Flatt and Scruggs. Rosenberg offers many more biographical details, however, and discusses the musical impact of many more persons than does Cantwell. Fans as well as scholars will find much to like in this well-researched, well-indexed work. William Hepfer, SUNY at Buffalo Libs.